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the worst/best thing

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1987

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Tim Stoker always wondered what it would be like to have a soulmate. A mark would show up on his skin once they were born, the first words they would every say to him. They would meet one day and it all would be perfect, just as it had been for his parents. He was 8 years old when he finally woke up to discover the words imprinted on his skin, right below his collarbone, in nice, flowy handwriting. 

Please, stop the dog! 

He wondered if that meant that his soulmate also liked dogs as much as he did, if they would meet in a dog park or at puppy school maybe? He would help them catch the dog of course, and they would talk and fall in love and forever be happy.

His second soulmark appeared about three months later. Unlike the first time, no one was excited or happy for him. Most people, especially parents and family, celebrated their kids soulmark, knowing that there would be someone out there who was the one for their kid. But having two soulmarks was frowned up. 

Oh. It is you again.

This time the writing looked almost like typewriter letters. What did they mean? And what did it even mean to have two soulmates? That you didn’t love one of them enough? That they would die and be replaced? That you would ultimately have to hurt at least one of them?

Tim was sure that it was a curse and that it would lead to him having to break someone's heart. There were two people out there whose souls were linked to his. And as excited he was to meet both of them, a little of the fear of hurting them always stayed with him.  

Having two soulmates was the worst thing that could happen. 

 

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2013

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Tim was very late for his very first day at a very new job. Coffee cup in hand he rushed through the streets and towards the small building that seemed so inconspicuous for being an Archive of Supernatural Horror Occurrences . He had spent too much time fussing about what to wear - his old job in publishing had allowed for quite the informal dress code, but he somehow was sure that a snapback cap and a hoodie wouldn’t be appropriate for the Magnus Institute. Not after he had seen Elias Bouchard and his eye-patterned tie at the job interview.

After leaving his house still almost punctual, he decided to just pop into his favourite coffee shop for a second to get an espresso on the way - only to have someone run into him as soon as he reached the counter. It was a posh and grumpy looking man, whose cup spilled over, drenching both their white shirts with black tea. Tim looked back up from his ruined top, opening his mouth to apologize - only to see that the other man already had left without saying a word! 

But he made it - well, almost in time. He was only late about ten minutes and with his tea-stained shirt he would at least have a believable excuse as to why he was late. The lady at the reception - Rosie - told him that Mr. Bouchard wasn’t in the office right now, but she lead him down into the research department. It looked a lot friendlier and lighter than expected. Rosie showed him his new desk and workspace and then turned to look for his colleagues, spotting one of them behind a shelf full of old books.

“Ah, Jon, might you come over here for a moment, this is Tim Stoker, your new colleague.” Tim hadn’t even noticed the man until he turned around to walk over towards his desk - stopping in all his movement as he recognized Tim, whose eyes grew wide in recognition. It was the man who ran into him at the coffee shop. 

“Oh. It is you again,” Jon said, brow furrowed in anger.

“Well,” Tim answered with half a grin and a theatrical sigh. ”So much for the adventurous excuse I had planned about why I am late.”  

 

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Jon was… different than Tim had expected his soulmate to be. For quite some time in his life Tim even had stopped to believe that he would ever meet his soulmates at all and had been fine with it. No need to break someone’s heart if you never met them to begin with. But now, there was Jon. 

For the first few days they didn’t talk about it. There was work and awkward silence. Tim finally took the chance on Friday evening, when he and Jon were leaving the Institute at the same time. He invited Jon for dinner, who unexpectedly accepted the offer. 

It was still a bit awkward, but they ordered indian food, put on a documentary as background noise and then they actually talked about it. In the end, Tim felt better. 

Jon told him how he never really believed in soulmates himself and that he wasn’t actually interested in sex or sure if he even wanted a relationship at all. Jon had obviously dreaded this conversation, having to tell his soulmate about this and Tim was sure he never related more to someone. He wondered if this could work out. If Jon wanted to simply be his friend, and Tim maybe never even met his other soulmate, it would never have to be brought up at all. 

And so Tim and Jon became friends. Jon wasn’t the easiest person, but neither was Tim. Neither was Sasha, who also worked as a researcher and was much more competent and intelligent than him and Jon together. Tim had always assumed that he would meet his soulmate, and they both would instantly be drawn to each other and kiss and be together from that day on. He realized that he wouldn’t have wanted it that way. 

Jon was funny and witty and if Tim found the right topic, Jon would talk with him for hours and hours in the most engaged and endearing way. But he wasn’t one to open up to people that quickly and Tim needed to sort out his own thoughts and feelings just the same. They both hid from the world differently, Tim through a mask of sarcasm and flirting, Jon through silence and closing off to people. Tim could almost see him retreat into his shell when he was not comfortable with someone.

 

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And then there was Martin. Tim met him two weeks after first starting to work at the Magnus Institute. Sasha had told him about Martin, who had been working at the Institute since practically forever. He had some family stuff to sort out and would be back in a few weeks, he was too nice for his own good and Jon didn’t like him. That was all Tim knew about Martin Blackwood until the day they met.  

It was a rainy monday morning and Tim was a little early for work. He was slowly starting to not feel completely lost all the time, remembering people's names and not having to ask Jon or Sasha for help about every other task. Tim was on his way towards the tiny coffee kitchen on the first floor to make some tea for them all, when someone started to yell behind him. 

“Please, stop the dog!” 

Tim spun around and a few things happened in very quick succession. A drenched dog sprinted past him and Tim tried, reflexively, to catch it - at the same moment as Martin did. They collided, grabbing only each other and not the animal lose in the institute. The dog, wet and barking, ran happily further down into the archive.

Tim looked up at the man, tall, broad and covered in freckles, who had fallen onto him and was currently trying to get up. The man who had just spoken Tim’s words. 

“Well, falling for you went a bit different than I imagined.” Martin stared at him with big, beautiful eyes. Tim stared right back, wondering if he would be able to count the freckles on his nose. 

“Y-You are…”

“Tim Stoker, The New One, and apparently your soulmate. Nice to meet you.” Tim grinned, sprung to his feet and extended his hand to help the other up.

“I’m Martin Blackwood. And, yeah, I guess… you are also my soulmate.” 

For a moment or two, happiness flooded through Tim’s whole body like a warm and gentle summer rain. Then he realized that not only had he met both of his soulmates in only two weeks, not only were they colleagues who all worked together - no, the worst part was that his two soulmates apparently hated each other.

 

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2014

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One year. It had taken them one year. A year of Tim somewhat dating both Martin and Jon without the others knowledge. Cuddling and movie nights with Jon, stealing a kiss or two when going out with Martin. He tried to suppress his conscience until he couldn’t take it anymore. 

Tim invited both of them over to his place to talk. He never really had expected that he would like - no, if he was being honest, the fitting word was love - his two soulmates. He wouldn’t choose. He couldn’t choose.

If they both decided to leave after his confession, he would accept. He had known that this day would come since he had been 8 years old, and so he stood there in front of them, telling them the whole truth. About his two soul marks. About his feelings for both of them. About how he knew Martin and Jon weren’t each other's biggest fans. That he was sorry. That he understood if they never wanted to see him again.

“I have to-”

“Tim, we-” 

Tim hadn’t seen them blush and share a look, he had been to busy staring at the very interesting floor. He hadn’t seen them bite their lips and looking just as guilty as he felt.

“You know… Jon and I, we are… soulmates,” Martin finally answered.

“And we knew that you… also have two soulmarks.” Jon lifted his shirt for a moment, to show Tim his own words, written onto each of his sides. 

Jon and Martin spent over an hour explaining, how they both had met when Jon joined the Institute and found out they were soulmates - and that they couldn’t really stand each other. That Jon told Martin straight away he didn’t want a relationship or a soulmate and how Martin, who had always been a romantic at heart, took it the very wrong way.

“It has been you, in the end, that made us realize… how stupid we were,” Jon admitted with a smile, one of his rare, real smiles. The one that made Tim’s inside grow warm and fuzzy.

“I came to Jon to confess how I had another soulmark, and how it was you, thinking he would… well, hate me even more, I guess,” Martin 

“But I never did in the first place,” Jon added. “We talked things through and we figured that… we might like each other more than we thought. And that you would tell us about your own feelings when you were ready for it, Tim.” 

Tim had a bit of a hard time to wrap his head around what this all meant. For him. For them.

“So you want to tell me that you found each other, is that it? You… I brought you together. That’s. That’s great. I won’t be intruding, I swear, I-”

Martin and Jon both sighed so deeply and so much in unison that it actually made Tim stop in his rambling.

“We want to make you realize that all three of us share soulmarks.” Martin sounded about as patient as a kindergarten teacher trying to tell a four-year-old that you couldn’t eat glitter glue.

“And that we all three like each other and, well, at least from my point of view,” Jon still smiled and a hint of blush crept onto his cheeks, “I think we could… try. A relationship, that is. I- I’m not sure how… I want to try. With the both of you.”

“If that is something you would also be down for,” Martin added, his own cheeks flaming red by now. 

There was a moment of silence, awkward and filled with the silence of all three of them trying to avoid each others eyes. Then Tim started to laugh, Martin and Jon soon joining in. 

 

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2014 - two weeks later 

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Tim woke up, cuddled up against Jon, Martin’s warm hand resting on the arm he had wrapped around Jon’s middle. It was still dark outside and he heard the rain pouring, steadily knocking against the glass of their bedroom window. Tim smiled as he pulled the blanket a bit tighter around him, hiding his face at Jon’s shoulder to try and go back to sleep for another few hours.

Having two soulmates was the best thing that could happen.